Pine Or Oak?
(Author's Note: This story was written for the Harry/Ginny ficafest challenge at LiveJournal. You can find the link to rest of the entries in my bio)
Ginny stood with her head poking around the door of Hermione and Ron's bedroom. She looked with a degree of sympathy at her friend, who was buried under a veritable mountain of duvets, with only her red-rimmed eyes, bushy hair and streaming nose visible.
"It's okay, really," she said. "We can get you stuff for the house another day."
What little that could be seen of Hermione's face took on a panicked, albeit sniffling expression.
"No!" she exclaimed through a nose that was apparently as blocked as a collapsed Floo grate. "Ron will kill me with kindness! I have to get out of here!"
She struggled to sit up, but the combined weight of the dozen duvets Ron had apparently piled on top of her and a sneezing fit that made her head bounce up and down on her pillow like a long-haired kneazle in a rocking horse factory apparently convinced her to give up.
"Ginny!" she croaked. "You have to help me! Ron's a slob, you know that. I can't take another day of living in this house like this."
Ginny had to concede that Hermione had a point. Ron and Hermione had been married for six weeks, and after a month in their new house, Ron had yet to get round to laying carpets, buying furniture, tidying up or even remembering to hang up his robes, although this last may have been down to there not being a single wardrobe anywhere in the house.
"Ginny, I've had enough. You have to get me some furniture today. The list is in the pocket of my jeans over there."
Hermione twitched her eyebrows in the direction of a pair of black jeans, which Ginny dutifully picked up. Suppressing a slight sigh over the evidence of Hermione's unfairly narrow waist - and the immaculate condition of the material, for her own jeans were starting to give way in the knee and she'd never learnt how to repair clothes - Ginny pulled a scrap of parchment from the back pocket. Her eyes widened as she read Hermione's impossibly tiny handwriting.
"Hermione, there's too much here. I can't do all this on my own. Most of it is Muggle stuff, anyway. Why don't you get one of Fred and George's Ravenous Wastepaper Baskets, or a Never-Full wardrobe from Skyler and MacHumphries? You don't need to live like a Muggle here in Hogsmeade, Hermione."
"I - Atchoo! Excuse me - know that, Ginny," Hermione said, sounding a little irritated. "As I was telling your brother, I'm happier with dustbins that don't eat my scrap paper, in case I need to get it back, and as for wardrobes that never fill up, well, Ron would just keep piling junk into it and I'd never be able to get my clothes out."
Ginny had to admit that this was true. She had refused the opportunity to take Ron's Never-Full wardrobe from the burrow because even though he had moved in with Hermione more than three years ago, it continued to disgorge old copies of Which Broomstick? and Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle.
"Well, what about a wizarding sink, Hermione? You can't enjoy doing your own washing up?"
"Ginny," Hermione snuffled in a tone that made Ginny think of Professor McGonagall. "If I want to have Muggle things in my house, I will. I had this argument with Ron over the weekend, and if I hadn't caught this dreadful cold then I imagine we'd still be having it now. Please, while Ron's at the doctors will you please go and do my shopping for me?"
Ginny gave up, but had one objection left.
"Hermione, I don't know where to buy all these Muggle things. Or how to get them back here."
"So take Justin with you," Hermione croaked, sounding as though she was regretting her previous strident outburst.
Ginny bit down on a retort, instead simply saying "We broke up."
"I did tell you."
"Apparently he felt that my family was overbearing," Ginny said, with a forced smile. "Of course, I only heard this from Ernie."
"Justin did always seem-"
"Don't say it, Hermione, or you'll have a lot worse wrong with you than a cold. Ever wondered what a Bat Bogey Hex would do to someone with a cold? I imagine that I can still remember the hex."
Hermione's hair and eyebrows shook. Ginny imagined that the rest of her friend's head was moving as well, somewhere underneath the covers.
"I won't say anything."
Ginny glared at the ceiling, her hands balling into fists by her side. She counted to five and then looked back down.
"What about Harry?"
"Hermione! I am sick and tired of you and my family sticking your noses into my love life! How many times do I have to tell you that I don't like Harry! He's an annoying prat, he's selfish, he's arrogant and whenever I spend any time with him I end up wanting to shove my wand up his-"
"He lives in Glasgow," Hermione said, in what Ginny recognised as her most patient, long-suffering tone even through her blocked nose and croaky throat. She sniffed pitifully. "He'd be able to help you get the Muggle things on the list."
Ginny flushed red, although she wouldn't have been able to say whether it was through anger at Hermione or embarrassment at losing her temper over Harry - Again! she scolded herself - even if Professor Snape had suddenly swept into the room and administered a dose of his famous Veritaserum.
"I'll Floo him and ask," she mumbled.
"Thank you Ginny," Hermione snuffled.
"But I'm going to make you pay for this when you get better."
Harry Potter, star Seeker for the Kenmare Kestrels and internationally famous hero for his crushing defeat of the Dark Wizard Voldemort, had grown used to the random intrusiveness that came as part of having his fireplace still connected to the public Floo network. He had attempted to discourage the press and his more enthusiastic fans from using his Floo grate by registering it under what he had hoped would be an impossible address to guess ("Sirius Black was innocent, you know it, I know it, so stop making him out to be a mass murderer, Bland Street") but word had got out. Now he kept a portrait of Professor Trelawney in front of his fireplace, which had succeeded in driving off all but the most determined of Potter-spotters. Unfortunately, it had its drawbacks.
"How are you today, my dear?"
"Fine. Little tired, but it was a late match last night."
"Tired? My dear, the orb says that those born in July who feel tired on the first of November invariably face a most hideous trial by ordeal in their near future."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..."
Harry sat by the fireplace, drinking a glass of milk - he had gone off tea shortly after installing the tea-leaf obsessed Professor Trelawney two feet from his kettle - as he read that morning's Prophet. Ernie McMillan, deputy head of the department of Magical Law Enforcement had given an interview where he had praised the efforts of head Aurors Ron Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks in the continuing effort to place suspected Death Eaters on trial. Harry had been following the investigation with interest, knowing that Ron, Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was head of Department, were being assiduous in their attempts to give the prisoners fair and honest trials.
In the sports section, a report on the previous night's game was spread across four pages, despite Harry having missed the Snitch when he'd been ploughed by both the Holyhead Beaters. The speculation in the report was that Harry would attempt to have the offending players banned for life when he was named president of the Quidditch league. Apparently, the Prophet had reported earlier in the week, the position was his as soon as he expressed an interest, and he had been quoted as saying that he'd take up the post as soon as current president Henrietta Hooch was disbarred for her role in the goblin match-fixing scandal of the season before. That there had been no match-fixing scandal, that no goblin would bet on Quidditch after the Ludo Bagman fake gold affair at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup and that Harry had no interest in the position seemed not to matter to the reporters, but Harry was used to fake stories about him in the paper. He had come to view them with detached interest, and had kept one or two to bring out when he wanted a laugh. His favourite involved the allegation of an affair between himself and Madam Amelia Bones, the Minister of Magic. He was also fond of the one that implied a more-than-fraternal relationship between himself and Ron, although Ron himself had been fit to be tied over the article, and the response of Molly Weasley had apparently been truly memorable, although Harry had been sadly absent when the article was published in Witch Weekly.
The Harry toasting the soles of feet by the fireplace, then, was a content young man with the sense of inner peace that comes from achieving everything one has set out to at an early age. Even when the image of Professor Trelawney began to try and read his future in the lines on the soles of his feet ("You shall walk a long way..."), he remained calm and undisturbed. He had grown used to the portrait Trelawney's incessant efforts to foretell his future and no longer even noticed her endless stream of astro-babble. When she began speaking about lots of children, life spans and the Ministry of Magic, then, he barely even noticed and it was only when the sound of a Weasley swearing as only a Weasley could erupted from the fireplace that he peered over the top of the painting.
Ginny's head hung in the flames, scowling alternately at Trelawney's portrait and Harry, looking as though her presence in Harry's flat was as a result of extreme duress. Harry approached carefully, knowing that Ginny's temper around him was as fiery as her orange-red hair or, indeed, the fire she was using to talk to him.
"Why in the name of Dumbledore do you have a portrait of that batty old fraud hanging in front of your fireplace, Harry?"
Harry regarded her with mild surprise before answering.
"Well, it's good to see you too, Ginny. I have Professor Trelawney here to discourage unwanted callers."
"Including your friends?" she asked, glaring at him with sparks – literally – shooting out of her fireplace image's eyes.
"I told my friends about it a couple of months ago," he replied mildly.
Their gazes met with an almost audible clang. They stared unblinkingly at one another for several seconds.
"Hermione needs our help," Ginny said slowly.
"What's the problem?"
"She needs furniture for the house. Ron's still ignoring the 'honour and obey' part of the marriage ceremony."
"Well, they have a big bed, so Ron's happy," Harry replied blandly. Although fireplace communication was rarely able to convey the finer facial expressions, Harry thought he saw a hint of a blush appear in Ginny's cheeks before she scowled at him. He hid a smile with one hand as he leaned on the top of Trelawney's portrait, adopting a bored expression as he regarded Ginny carefully.
"Does she want us to go shopping for her, then?" he asked.
"That's right. If you don't want to, I'll tell her so and I'll get someone else to come along."
"Oh no," he said quickly. "Knowing Hermione, there must be a lot of Muggle things on her list. You'll need me along to help you out with all that. You can't exactly take Justin with you, can you?"
Ginny flared up, the flames around her roaring into an inferno for a second. Trelawney squeaked as the flames licked at her canvas, but Harry had placed an Imperturbable charm on the painting and she suffered no ill effects. Harry hid another smile in his hand, coughing slightly to show that Ginny's moment of anger had pumped smoke into his living room. She looked at him without a hint of apology, her jaw set squarely in a way that made Harry think of Ron when Hermione was questioning his proposal of marriage. Harry had been privileged to witness the moment, when Hermione had lost her head and blurted out forty-seven sensible reasons against the idea of their becoming man and wife. Eventually Ron, who had been growing more and more indignant, had hexed her into unconsciousness and sat on her until she awoke and agreed to marry him.
Ginny did not, it must be said, look as though marriage to Harry was something she was considering. Hexing him, however, seemed to have some appeal.
"Who told you about me and Justin?" she growled.
"Dean," he replied, carelessly. "He seemed quite pleased by the idea. I think he's hoping you'll give the two of you another chance. Again. I suggested he get in quick this time. You moved from Oliver to Justin pretty quickly, didn't you? Should I let him know if you have someone else lined up already?"
This time, Harry had to step back as the flames licked the ceiling of the room.
"One more word about my private life, Harry…"
"Oh, come on. You're virtually family, Gin-Gin. If I can't tease you about your boyfriends – which gives me a lot of ammunition, after all – what does that say about us?"
"'Us'? 'Us'? There is no 'us' Potter! You're an egotistical prat who lives for Quidditch and winding me up! If I didn't owe Hermione for kicking Draco Malfoy in the balls then I wouldn't be seen dead around you! If you think that my personal- What?"
Harry was staring at Ginny intently, his expression frozen.
"What did Draco Malfoy do to you that made Hermione kick him in the balls?" he asked slowly.
"Oh, you'd love to know, wouldn't you? Well sod off, Harry. It's none of your business."
She glowered at him, and Harry shrugged.
"Maybe you're right," he said, quietly. He smiled a smile that was all teeth. "Accio scarf and jacket!"
Grabbing the garments as they sailed towards him, he strode towards the fireplace, grabbing a pinch of Floo Powder as he passed the pot. He threw it before him into the fireplace and yelled "Granger-Weasley residence!" as Ginny yelled "Harry! No!"
There was a swirl of green flames, and then Professor Trelawney was left alone in an otherwise empty room.
"Twelve children," she said, shaking her head. "Poor dears."
Harry blossomed into place in Ron and Hermione's large fireplace just in time to see Ginny tumbling backwards, landing with a crash amongst Ron and Hermione's half-full packing crates.
"Sorry," he said, keeping a straight face as he hastened forward to help her up. "I keep forgetting what happens if you Floo into a fireplace while someone's talking on it."
"Like hell," she snapped, slapping his hand away as she pushed himself upright. "I'm not in the mood to put up with you today, Harry. Ever since I finished school you've been trying to wind me up, well, congratulations. You've succeeded. I'm trying to do your best friends a favour, Harry, and if you can't put aside whatever idiotic part of your brain that makes me your favourite target for being a prat at then you can bugger off and I'll go and get a Muggle-born who doesn't wander around with his head up his arse to help me!"
"Whatever you want, Gin-Gin."
"And don't call me Gin-Gin!"
"And stop smirking!"
Harry let his face fall into an expression of sober respectability. Ginny's eyes narrowed.
"One word, Potter. One toe out of place, one thought moving in the wrong direction, one suggestion that you and Ron should vet my boyfriends, one hint at the fabulous state of your love life and I will use on you every single hex you ever taught me, that Ron's ever taught me, that Tonks has ever taught me and that every single person who's ever taught me a hex has taught me, understood?"
Harry nodded once, silently.
"Right. Let's go shopping."
"You know, this is nice. We never swear at shop assistants together any more."
Once Ginny had retrieved Harry from the dumpster, the mood of the day settled into one of silence. Harry trailed along six feet behind an increasingly incandescent Ginny, smiling innocently as the shop assistants in the wizarding area of Glasgow looked down their noses at her.
"Why don't they sell Muggle things?" she seethed rhetorically as they left the last shop. "Bloody snobs!" she barked in the direction of the shopkeeper as he ushered his newest customers into the store.
Harry stood silently by, playing with the tassles on one end of his scarf.
"Fine," Ginny sighed, eyeing him with a look of deep distrust. "Let's go and look in your shops. But just remember, Potter-"
"I really am not going to forget, Gin-G… Ginny. I still have rotten banana in my hair, okay. Still," he looked down at the antique pocket watch he'd found discarded in the dumpster. "The day hasn't turned out all bad."
Ginny rolled her eyes.
"So, shall we go then?" Harry asked. "What sort of furniture does Hermione want, pine or oak?"
"Well, Hermione wants pine," Ginny said, falling into step beside him.
"Does Ron want oak by any chance?" Harry asked, rolling his own eyes.
Ginny nodded, a small smile tugging at her lips.
"Typical. Well, shall we do one room in one, the next in the other? Or do one floor oak, the other pine?"
"They live in a three-storey house."
"So they do," Harry said, affecting a thinking pose. "Well, how about we do pine on the ground floor, oak on the middle floor and use our own best judgment on the top floor?"
"-should know better than to leave her furniture shopping in my hands," Harry finished. "Really, I funded the twins' first shop. Sometimes I think Hermione still sees me as this quiet, withdrawn little boy with no greater ambition than surviving the next school year."
"Whereas, really, you were this rude, loud, irritating imbecile whose sole pleasure in life is getting up my nose whenever you have the slightest opportunity?"
"You noticed!" He seemed delighted. "But it's not my sole pleasure. I'd hate you to think that of me."
"Fine. Getting up my nose and getting on your broom."
"Still not even close," Harry grinned in a manner Ginny found deeply infuriating. "But we're at the first shop. He pointed up at the sign Pine In For You and they both winced at the dreadful play on words. "How about I handle the shopkeeper this time, and you try and work out what my other pleasures might be?" He winked and strode towards a pretty shopgirl who leapt to the task of helping her handsome customer.
Ginny scowled, and wandered off to look at dining tables, as she needed a new one for her flat anyway. Even as she looked at round tables, square tables, long tables, short tables and tables that could change height and length, but only in a Muggle way, her mind was resisting the mundane task before it and instead was considering Harry's last words.Harry's Pleasures
1. Winding me up
2. Playing Quidditch
3. Spending time with his friends
She watched him picking out a pine table that would fit Hermione's requirements for a dining table, and then choosing a dresser that... she squinted. It wasn't right. Not to go with the table. It wasn't ugly, by any means, but it was a shade too dark, and a pinch too large. Hermione wouldn't like it...
Ron would, though, she realised, as Harry smirked. It would remind him of the Burrow, and all the messy, half-matching furniture that had accumulated over the years. She moved a little closer so she could hear what he was saying.
"And I need six chairs. Five matching, one slightly different to the others. Not a lot, but just a bit, do you understand?"
"We wouldn't normally sell chairs like that..."
"Please?" he asked, turning his emerald gaze upon her. Ginny shivered in tandem with the shopgirl.
"I'll see what I can do."
"Thank you, Beth. It was Beth, wasn't it?"
"I am forever in your debt. My friends will love this."
He turned, and saw Ginny.
"What do you think?" he asked, waving a hand at Hermione's soon-to-be kitchen furniture.
"They're both going to hate you," she replied.
"At first, probably," he replied, his grin widening. "How are you doing on that list of my pleasures?"
4. Teaching his friends a lesson
"I'm up to four."
"Well, it's a start," he replied, tilting his head to one side slightly. "Keep going."
"How many are there?"
"Infinite, I suppose. I've come up with a list of three-hundred-and-sixty-seven."
"Seventh year, my Dark Arts exam. Getting rid of Voldemort two weeks before the exam pretty much guaranteed I'd pass, right? So that was how I spent my afternoon. One for each day of the year, one for when there's a leap year, and one spare just in case they add another day to the calendar."
"Is that why you failed all your NEWTs?"
"Yeah, well, who cares, right? I didn't do any work that year because I was preparing for him to show up. Then, when he did, he cocked up, didn't he? Apparated between Dumbledore and me. Five seconds later, his body was dust and his spirit trapped in the clapper of an old hand bell. Dumbledore gave it to Peeves as a going-away present when he got promoted to under-poltergeist at Buckingham Palace."
Ginny glared at him. "You talk such a load of crap at times, Potter."
"But you always believe it, Weasley. I wouldn't spend half as much time making fun of you if you didn't always rise to it."
"Oh, bugger off. Do the shopping on your own if you're so good at it."
She made to storm off, but stopped outside the door. She turned, and glared back at Harry as he resumed his shopping. She was, she admitted, a little put out that he hadn't come after her. Surely he should have come after her when she stormed off in a huff with him?
She watched him calmly paying, and then stood outside the store as he made his way calmly towards her.
"Are you going for anger-sprints now? Because after five years of you being angry at me for weeks over one wrong word, I'm going to need to change my tactics if you're only going to be mad at me for ten seconds at a time."
She glared at him. "One wrong word? What about the time you ruined my twentieth birthday party?"
"I didn't ruin your twentieth birthday party," he replied, mildly.
"Harry, everyone with eyes saw you hexing Terry who, I might remind you, was my boyfriend at the time. I know that he was a bit boring, and he wasn't a perfect gentleman, but - What?"
"And what did people without eyes see?" he asked quietly, looking down at the pavement.
She almost punched him. "Why do you do that?" she half-screamed.
"Answer a perfectly valid question with a completely nonsensical one!"
"It's a good way of making the Daily Prophet reporters give up and go to someone else for quotes," he replied. He looked at her, and let his shoulders sag. "But it's the truth, Ginny. Okay, think. What did the people without eyes see on the day of your twentieth birthday party?"
"There were no people without eyes at my party!"
He pursed his lips, as though she'd failed an exam.
"You're not thinking," he replied. "I can't tell you, I promised I wouldn't, but if you guess then that's okay."
Ginny glared at him once more, but Harry had long been immune to all her varieties of glares, even No. 137 - The One To Use On Imbecile Boyfriends and Irritating Brothers.
She let out a long sigh, and cast her mind back. Her twentieth birthday party had been held at Terry's parents' estate, Boot Lodge. There had been dozens of people there all, Ginny was sure, with at least one working eye, although it was always a debatable point how many eyes Alastor Moody had.
A lightbulb went off in her head as she remembered being shown around the manor house that stood in the middle of the grounds.
"The statue room?" she asked.
Harry looked at her without answering.
"Okay, something happened in the statue room. I never did get why they collected all those headless statues, and they stored them on those ugly shelves that didn't do with anything else in the room." Ginny suppressed a shudder as she thought of the creepy room. "But something happened in there that made you hex Terr-"
She turned and looked at Harry.
"Terry and Cho. He started going out with her as soon as we broke up. Was she kissing him in that room?"
Harry stayed silent.
"Not kissing, then. Were..." Her eyes grew wide. "Were Terry and Cho shagging, Harry? Did you see my boyfriend having sex with Cho Chang?"
Harry ducked his head, and nodded.
"Bitch! And bastard!"
"Just, uh, bastard, actually. Remember, Cho had been away for six months. She didn't know Terry was with you. I don't know what he was playing at, I suppose he got a kick out of it."
Ginny was seething, the now years-old slight against her seeming as fresh as if it were being inflicted before her very eyes."
"Why didn't you tell me, Harry?"
"Would it have made any difference? And I didn't because Cho asked me not to."
"Because Cho and you-"
"Because the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic asked me not to jeapordise her position in Madam Bones new government."
Harry hung his head, but Ginny caught the hint of a grin hiding behind his messy fringe.
"Harry..." she felt herself deflate. "You should have told me."
"Nah. It was fun," he said, the maddening grin returning as he lifted his gaze to meet hers. "That was when you really started to hate me, Gin-Gin, and that made life worth living on its own, regardless of any other pleasures."
"You like me hating you?"
"Hey, I'm Harry Potter, remember? I live for danger. I get a thrill out of near-death situations and that, my dear Ginny, is where I end up when I start making fun of you."
"Fine. So Terry Boot was a rotten sod. What about Dean? I know you made him break up with me, and the worst he ever did was leave his clothes on the floor at the end of the day."
"Err... Which break up do you mean?" Harry replied, blankly.
"Which one? You mean you were involved both times we broke up? Harry!"
"We have oak to buy," Harry replied, looking unsettled for the first time that day. "And more pine, too. Come on."
He Disapparated, leaving her standing on an empty street.
She scowled, and then sighed.
5. Taking care of his friends
6. Confusing the hell out of me
She trudged down the street, past Oak Um On, past Pine Day For It, past (All Ye Faithful Can Now Buy Online!) before giving up and taking a seat outside a tea-room that looked as though someone had vomited chintz all over it. She shut her eyes, counted to five, and opened them again. Harry was sat nonchalantly on the other side of the table, the dregs of a cup of tea and a half-eaten scone in front of him.
"Would Hermione let us leave the house alive if we invested heavily in chintz, do you think?" he asked, eyeing a sofa inside the tea-room speculatively.
"Probably not," she replied, swiping the scone and biting into it. Her eyes widened.
"Yeah, I don't like fruit scones either. Why d'you think I left it?"
"You're a smug bastard, Harry," she said, picking bits of sultana out of her teeth.
"And you're a presumptuous cow, Ginny," he replied, leafing through one of the tea-room's free newspapers. "But I don't let that stop me liking you."
He dropped the newspaper on the table and got up, leaving Ginny staring at the headline. "TERRENCE HIGGS ARRESTED UNDER DARK MAGIC ACT". The first few lines detailed how the former Slytherin had apparently kept a collection of dark artefacts and relics in the large, black wardrobe that was pictured next to the images of the struggling Higgs, held by several Aurors. Ginny only glanced at the story before she was on her feet and chasing after Harry.
She looked around, and then down, to find a chintzy woman glaring up at her.
"Yes?" she replied, taking a step back .
"You'll have to pay for that, you know," she said, gesturing at the scone and tea.
"But I, but he... Oh, how much?"
"Two fifty," the chintz growled, eyeing Ginny suspiciously.
Ginny shoved some Muggle money into her hand and darted off in the direction Harry had taken. She had already passed one furniture shop (Willow You Or Won't You?) when she saw Harry handing over a vast sum of money in another oak furniture shop. He came out looking rather pleased with himself, and his smile only widened as his gaze fell upon Ginny's red face.
"That's the middle floor sorted," he said pleasantly, as though he hadn't run away and left her to pay for his lunch.
"So Terrence is a Dark Wizard?" she glowered.
"That's right," he replied, looking both ways along a street that crossed theirs before choosing the left turn. "Lots of evidence against him, I believe."
"Fine. So two of my ex-boyfriends are complete washouts, Harry, what's your point?"
He smiled at her. "Aren't you forgetting someone?"
She threw her hands up in despair. "You want to bring Michael into this as well? Fine. Michael Corner is a single father who propositioned me by the punch fountain at the last Hogwarts reunion, happy?"
Harry's eyebrows rose significantly. "I didn't know that. He wasn't who I meant, anyway. Being a single father is nothing to be ashamed of, and propositioning you just shows that he has eyes, Gin-Gin-"
"Stop calling me-
"-but I was thinking of Zacharias Smith, Fred and George's old mate."
"Harry, okay, Zacharias was a bit useless and then there was the thing where we didn't quite agree-"
"He's gay, Ginny. I think you both really agreed on one very important thing."
"Fine! I've dated a cheat, a gay guy, a wannabe Death Eater... So?"
"He's looking good," Harry continued, ignoring her. "Being gay seems to suit him. He looks happier now he's not trying to be what he thought everyone wanted him to be. Being honest to yourself is always a good thing."
"Harry, is there a point to all this? Fine, I pick hopeless boyfriends, what do you expect of me?"
"But you don't, Ginny. You dated Dean, and he's a good bloke, usually. So's Colin, although you always act like nothing ever happened-"
"Nothing did happen!"
"-even though you brought him to all the social events we had during your seventh year, despite knowing how much I hated his reborn hero-worship. And despite snogging him in front of all of us at Kings Cross when we came to pick you up."
"I was saying good-bye," Ginny snapped. "And what gives you the right to keep tabs on me like that, Harry?"
"Nothing," he replied, flashing another of his annoying grins. "I'm just being nosey. We've still got the top floor to do."
He strode off once more, leaving an infuriated Ginny tailing after him.
7. Keeping tabs on my boyfriends, apparently
Harry finally let Ginny choose something in the next shop. It was only a lamp, a neutral one that neither Ron nor Hermione could find anything to argue about, but she was left with the irrational feeling that she had passed some sort of test, especially when Harry smiled at her.
"Why have you been taking such an interest in my love life?" she asked, as they left the shop.
He paused, and then shrugged. "It's more exciting than mine, I guess. I haven't been on a date in two years."
"Yeah. Hermione keeps trying to fix me up with some friend of hers, but I'm waiting for the right girl," he grinned. "Bet you didn't know I'm a romantic, eh?"
"No, I didn't," Ginny replied, eyeing him suspiciously. It had been at least fifteen minutes since Harry's last joke, after all, and she was beginning to suspect she was setting him up for his next big punchline. "So, what happens when you meet the right girl?"
"Oh, the usual things young people in love do," Harry replied. "Moonlit walks along the river, candlelit dinners, Sunday afternoons spent in bed watching sappy romantic films, buying a kitten together…"
"Did Hermione put you up to this?" Ginny asked, her eyes flashing angrily. Harry stepped back a pace.
"Put me up to what?" he asked, in apparent bewilderment. Ginny bit her lip.
"Nothing," she said. "Sorry, Harry. I'm just not feeling my best right now."
"I know what'll cheer you up," he said, smiling. "Hot fudge sundaes, sound good?"
"Er, yeah," she said, trailing helplessly after him as he led the way to a conveniently sited ice-cream parlour.
8. Moonlit walks along the river
9. Candlelit dinners
10. Sunday afternoons in bed watching romantic films
12. Hot fudge sundaes
As she took her first bite of ice-cream, Ginny decided that five coincidences were possible. As she looked at Harry smoothing down his shaggy fringe in order to hide his wizarding-world-famous scar as people milled all around them, it was hard to imagine what else the two of them might have in common, after all.
"So," Ginny asked, as she promised herself that she'd start a new diet the next day. "If you've been keeping tabs on my boyfriends, why did you break Dean and me up?"
Harry looked at her. "Which time?" he asked again.
"The first time," she sighed. "When we were at Hogwarts."
"You were going in different directions," he replied. "He was going to ask you to have a serious relationship with him, which you didn't want, and I suggested he might want to reconsider."
"That's all. I promise you. He may have finished with you, but I don't know what made him decide to do it, although I think he may have gone to someone else for advice as well."
"Seamus," Harry replied, without missing a beat. "He may have given him a bad impression of what it's like to ask someone to marry you only to have them laugh in your face."
"Okay," Ginny said. "What about the second time?"
"Oh, that was Ron, not me," Harry replied. "Word got around that Dean was getting, well, worked up…"
"Ron had a word with him about the standards of behaviour your family expects of your boyfriends."
"Ron scared him off for wanting to sleep with me?"
"Well, Ron and Fred. And George. I think Bill might have had something to say, too. Percy was too busy, but last I heard Dean was seeing a therapist about his phobia of dragons, so I guess Charlie had a quiet word as well."
Harry grinned again. "Oh, come on, Ginny, don't you want to save yourself for someone you love? You can't tell me that you were actually in love with Terrence, or Dean, or Colin-"
"I never went out with Colin!" Ginny barked, fighting down the blush that always struck her when she remembered the New Years Eve of her seventh year, grabbing Colin and dragging him behind one of the common room sofas just before midnight... She shivered, and Harry grinned.
"-Uh huh," he continued. "Or Terry, or Zacharias, or Michael, or Justin. Oliver and Anthony are nice guys, but you were only with them for a few weeks, so I guess you decided they weren't worth being with."
"Fine! I wasn't in love with them, so what?"
"Well, Ron reckons it's pretty good-"
"You know what I don't want to hear about? My brother's sex life!"
"I was thinking more about just being in a relationship with someone you love, but thank you for that mental image," Harry shuddered.
"That's not the point!" Ginny scowled. "No-one has any right to interfere in my private life."
Harry stared at her, and then grinned.
"Shut up, Harry!"
"I didn't say anything. And we have the third floor to furnish."
"Harry! Look, why is everyone so bothered about my love life? Is it because I'm a girl? Because I'm the youngest? Why don't people stick their noses into your love life?"
"They just don't like to see people making mistakes, I guess," Harry replied. "And who says they don't get involved in my love life?"
Ginny seethed quietly as she followed Harry into the next store, where she chose a new bed as she tried to decide whether she hated her family or not. She decided that just because they'd been right about all her boyfriends, it gave them no right to decide whether or not she should be going out with them. Didn't she have her own mind?
She glared daggers at the shopgirl chatting pleasantly to Harry. As Ginny snorted, she less-than-subtley tweaked the neck of her blouse to flash a little more of her cleavage. Ginny was mildly mollified when Harry didn't even glance down.
13. Helping my family run my life
They entered what Harry assured her was the last furniture shop in Glasgow. Aside from a lamp and a rocking chair, they still had the entire top floor to furnish. Unfortunately, Hermione hadn't specified what it was the floor would be used for, so Harry had decided that they would use their imagination. Ginny had initially baulked at the idea, but had agreed after only a very little convincing. She had a feeling that Harry was going to take the blame for any and all emotional scarring the newlyweds developed when they saw their newly furnished home
14. Relishing life-or-death situations
"What are we looking for?" Ginny asked as they ambled through the rows of furniture.
"I'm not sure," Harry replied, frowning slightly as he looked at a set of side tables, before turning away. "Something... Something that they'll have to grow to love, but nothing so bad that they'll never like it."
"Well, you've chosen everything today. Can I have a go for a change?"
"You want to be responsible for them living with furniture they may well hate for several years?"
"I think I can choose something that'll be good for them," she replied absently, looking around the store.
Harry regarded her intently for a few seconds, before nodding.
"Yeah, okay," he said, sweeping an arm out towards the furniture. "Let's see what you come up with this time."
Ginny wandered through the store while Harry looked at curtains and bed linen. She was attracted at first to a tall, black wardrobe but when she got closer she decided she didn't like the look of it. It was too easy to imagine something nasty hiding inside, and if Ron and Hermione ever had kids, she didn't want them being frightened of their wardrobe.
Ginny tried valiantly to find something to buy for storage, but the shelving the shop had didn't look safe, as though it couldn't be trusted to keep everything stable. The closets were better, but she didn't think that they would fit very well with everything else. It wouldn't do to have one piece of furniture going completely the wrong way, design wise. The set of hooks for hanging clothes on the floor at least made her smile, but in the end she gave up and moved on to soft furnishing
She saw Harry again as she began looking at easy chairs. He had moved from curtains and drapes, it seemed, and was now talking to a salesman about pillows. Ginny turned away as Harry lay back on a test bed and put his head back on the salesman recommendation. She blushed as she looked at a sofa, the red and gold covering bringing unwelcome memories to mind. She shook her head, and sank back onto the sofa behind her, one arm on the arm rest, her chin in her hand as she picked idly at the frayed knee of her jeans, only stopping once she had absent-mindedly picked right through the thread, leaving her knee bare. Looking down at the hole in her jeans, she grimaced, and got up to look for Harry.
She found him easily enough, admiring a display room in blue and yellow. As she looked at the display, her breath caught in her throat for a second.
"This is nice," she said, approaching him from behind.
"Yes, it is," he said, turning to face her with a smile. "Did you - oh, here, let me get that."
He crouched down and waved his wand at her knee. "Suturo!"
Ginny looked around the display room as Harry magically re-sewed her jeans.
"Did you find anything?" he continued, meeting her gaze as he stood back up.
Ginny didn't answer. She was trying to remember if Harry's eyes had always been that exact shade of emerald green. She shook her head slightly.
"No?" he sounded disappointed.
"No, I mean, yes. I have. This one," she said, pointing past him and looking at the display room. "This one..." she met his gaze. "This one is the right one."
15. Sending shivers down my spine, if he's doing it deliberately.
"I like it myself. I think it's pretty wonderful," he said. "It'd look good wherever it went," he continued. "But I'm glad we agree."
Harry went off to pay for the room, and arrange details for its transportation to Ron and Hermione's home. Ginny sank down onto the bed and stared at the repaired knee of her jeans.
"Ready to go home?"
She looked up. Harry was tucking a receipt into his wallet. She tried to catch his eye, but he wasn't looking at her, indeed, she decided, was looking anywhere but at her.
She looked around the display room once more, and then bit her lip. The shelves in particular were just perfect.
"Mmm?" he fished around in his wallet.
"I, um, no."
He looked up. "'No'?"
"Er, 'No' what, Ginny?"
"No, I'm not ready to go home just yet. Do you want to get dinner somewhere? I'll treat. I want to apologise for being horrible."
He looked stricken, but a hint of his usual sparkle showed in his eyes. "Which time?" he asked.
"Every time," she rolled her eyes. "Do you want to come for dinner or not?"
He looked at her closely, as though trying to decide whether this time it was her, Ginny, who was setting up for a punchline.
"I could always ask Dean..."
"No, I'll come," Harry said, a little too quickly. "I mean, you'll only break his heart, Gin-Gin."
She sighed as she stood up. "I thought you were going to stop calling me that."
"It's a term of endearment."
She paused as his hand slipped into hers.
"Negotiable?" he asked as he began walking towards the exit.Harry's Pleasures
1. Winding me up
2. Playing Quidditch
3. Spending time with his friends
4. Teaching his friends a lesson
5. Taking care of his friends
6. Confusing the hell out of me
7. Keeping tabs on my boyfriends, apparently
8. Moonlit walks along the river
9. Candlelit dinners
10. Sunday afternoons in bed watching romantic films
12. Hot fudge sundaes
13. Helping my family run my life
14. Relishing life-or-death situations
15. Sending shivers down my spine. It's deliberate.
17. - 367. Should be fun finding out...
Harry and Ginny stood behind Ron and Hermione on the stairs of the newlyweds house. They had chosen an open plan layout for the first two floors, and from where they were standing, it was possible to see the bottom and middle floors in their newly decorated entirety.
"Ready?" Harry asked. Ginny grinned at him as Ron and Hermione nodded assent from behind their blindfolds.
There was a faint displacement of air as Harry and Ginny Disapparated, reappearing just outside the house's front door. They counted to three, barely containing their grins as they looked at one another, and then: "HARRY!!!!"
There was a loud clattering on the stairs inside the house, and they Disapparated.